Monte Carlo Masters 2018: Alexander Zverev makes surprise Rafael Nadal claim

Rafael Nadal

GETTYRafael Nadal is a 10-time winner in Monte Carlo

'It is as important as the grass or hard-court seasons'. Vajda has been helping Djokovic prepare for the clay-court season, and watched on during a practice session with David Goffin on Saturday.

The decision eventually paid dividends as along with his Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami Open titles, Federer went on to win at the Halle Open along with a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon crown.

The coach said: "He wants to play in everything, to always be available". "But I would love to play against Rafa on the ground, at the best of five sets".

Roger Federer has defeated Rafael Nadal in their last five meetings, but none of them were on clay.

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Spain's Rafael Nadal plays against Spain's Albert Ramos Vinolas during the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament final tennis match, on April 23, 2017 in Monaco.

Federer, meanwhile, has opted out of the entirety of the clay-court season for the second year in a row, which Nadal joked was simply because he wants to avoid a meeting on Nadal's favoured surface.

The 31-year-old's statement comes ahead of his return to the ATP tour at the Monte Conte Masters this week.

When asked for his thoughts on the draw and not facing the Spaniard he said: "Yes it is a bonus, but I still have great players in my half of the draw".

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Nadal has lost his last five matches against Federer, four of which came past year, though none of the losses came on clay.

Regardless of Federer's absence, Nadal will look to kickstart his season after an injury-prone 2018 so far.

The hip problem that forced the world number one to retire from his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January put him out of commission until Spain's Davis Cup quarter-final win over Germany last week.

"I feel that I'm playing well".

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'He says he will love to play against me again in best-of-five sets on clay, ' Nadal smiled.

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